Artists Drive to Artists Palette

Death Valley National Park, Stop No. 2

November 27, 2020

Location: 20 min south of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center

How to get here: vehicle, 9 mile drive

Hike: walk out to view points

Pets: Not allowed

Fee: DVNP entrance fee $35/vehicle good for 7 days or America the Beautiful Pass

Restrooms at Trailhead: Yes

We took the stunning scenic drive through Artists Drive after leaving Badwater Basin on our way back towards the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. At this point the sun was setting fast. We arrived right before 4:00 pm local time, about 30 minutes before sunset.

There are 2 main scenic walk out points along the drive. The first is quite early in the drive. You can’t miss is it. The walk out to the viewpoint is up a short steep hill. Here the colors offer a nice palette of brown hues.

After a fun drive farther down the one way road with twists, turns and dips, you’ll come across the popular Second viewpoint. This is the popular Instagram spot where you can see the beautiful palette of colors. In the interest of time, we stopped on the side of the road by other cars and took a path out to get our own beautiful picture! We could have continued to the designated parking spots. From that viewpoint, there is a trail out to the rocks with great viewpoints and photo opportunities. We read that Artists palette is best in the afternoon light as it is west facing. If you can, get there within the golden hour (hour before sunset) for soft lighting and great pictures. We were here around 4:15pm and sunset was around 4:30pm.

Did you know the rocks with Artists Palette provides evidence for one of Death Valley’s most violently explosive volcanic periods. The Miocene-aged formation is made up of cemented gravel, playa deposits, and volcanic debris. Chemical weathering and hydrothermal alteration caused the oxidation and other chemical reactions that produce the variety of colors displayed.

For the Star Wars fans – “Check out the area around Artists Palette parking area for some familiar views! Parts of Star Wars, A New Hope, were filmed in this area.” – NPS

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